Top Selling Green Car Sales for September Led by Prius

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Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM) claims more than 68% of the U.S. market for hybrid car sales. Not exactly a surprise because the company’s Prius was the first mass-produced hybrid car on the market, with sales beginning in Japan in 1997 and in the rest of the world in 2000.

But while the Prius has always led the hybrid category, in absolute numbers sales of the venerable car have been slipping. Sales of the Prius liftback, Toyota’s best-selling model, dropped 3.8% month over month in September and 1.6% year over year. For the year to date, sales are down 8.6%. The liftback dominates the hybrid car market with a 31.3% share.

Ford Motor Co.’s (NYSE: F) Fusion hybrid ranks third in hybrid sales, behind the hybrid version of Toyota’s popular RAV4, with just over 12% of the market. Fusion hybrid sales rose 25.8% month over month and 88.6% year over year. Year to date, sales are up 13%.

The data were collected and published by on its September Dashboard page.

The website’s Jeff Cobb had this to say about Toyota’s performance in the hybrid car market:

The Prius Liftback continues in the area of 8,000 to 10,000 monthly, but this is below expectation and below stronger sales in the past (even though it is now a new model in its fourth generation). Sales of the Prius C and Prius V are also steady, but are not at a strong level. The new RAV4 hybrid continues to impress, selling in the 4,000 to 5,000 range monthly. The Camry hybrid is not performing well, which is consistent with the overall Camry line.

The leader in plug-in hybrid (PHEV) cars is General Motors Co.’s (NYSE: GM) Chevy Volt with sales of 2,031 units in September, down 2.4% month over month, but up 114% year over year. For the year to date, Volt sales are up 76%.

Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) leads the field in battery-electric (BEV) sales with an estimated 4,100 units of its Model S sedan and 2,600 units of the Model X SUV sold in September. Together the two models accounted for about 87% of all BEV sales in September. Tesla announced last week that it had delivered approximately 24,500 units in the third quarter of the year and expects to deliver about 50,000 units total for the second half of 2016.

The Nissan Leaf trailed both Tesla models in the BEV category with sales of 1,316 units in September. That’s up 23.5% month over month and 5.5% year over year. For the year to date, however, Leaf sales are down 32.2%. HybridCars noted that BEV vehicles’ total share of the green car market reached 0.7% in September, their highest level ever.

For the year to date overall sales are up 0.4%, primarily driven by sales of BEVs and that driven primarily by Tesla’s Model X sales. HybridCars’ Cobb summed it up,” [O]verall sales are strong, but a clear plateau has been reached.”

Moving the market off that plateau may depend on the success of Chevy’s new Bolt and the Tesla Model 3. The Bolt is expected to reach (at least some) dealers before the end of this year, and the Model 3 is expected to reach the production line before the end of next year.